The problem of drug abuse in our society has taken on alarming proportions within recent years. The excessive and indiscriminate use of drugs, especially among teen-agers and young adults, has spread to the general population. It is difficult to sort out all of the factors contributing to this epidemic of experimentation and involvement with drugs, but several are obvious: peer pressure, curiosity, easy availability, and the teen-agers’ relationships with his parents.
Some teen-agers have developed an antagonism against their parents. This attitude, in its milder form, is part of the normal process of emancipation from home. But when the attitude is extreme, the teen-ager does some things just because he knows his parents oppose them. Having been warned against drugs or forbidden to use them, he finds ways of experimenting with them to show his independence.
It is apparent, then, that the hazards of drug abuse are so great as to endanger the user’s character and personality, and even his life. The real solution to drug abuse is to abstain from drugs in the first place. Since the beginnings of drug abuse typically occur during the teens, this throws a very real responsibility on teen-agers’ parents to run the family so that the teen-ager will not be influenced to begin the use of drugs. Experts offer the following suggestions to help parents in this endeavor:
1) Parents should arrange adequate time for companionship with their children. Seeing each other only at mealtime is insufficient. Giving the children instruction in home duties, counseling them on schoolwork, and reprimanding them for their mistakes do not add up to cordial companionship. Parents must become interested in their children’s interests and engage with them in pleasant activities.
2) When parents manifest love and goodwill toward their children, the children will respond to the extent that they will want to please them.
3) Children should be kept busy with pleasant and worthwhile enterprises. Parents should commend their children for tasks well done.
4) Parents should discuss drugs with their children – their effects, their hazards, and the treachery of the influences that encourage experimentation with drugs.
5) Young teen-agers should be encouraged to read literature regarding the use of drugs, and discuss with their parents what they have read.
6) Parents should keep open the channels of communication. They will not criticize the children for their questions and comments, and will respect their confidence when they mention practices of their schoolmates and friends. Parents will encourage their children to exert a wholesome influence upon their friends.
7) Parents should encourage their children to rely on their religious concepts and ideals of integrity in solving their problems and coping with their stresses and disappointments.
The parents need great tact and judgment in dealing with their children. Rather than “preaching” to them, they should give them factual information and, by their own example, indicate the advantages of the more desirable way of living.